American Ads for Russian Weapons

The National Interest and its authors so persistently publish in-depth stories about nuclear weapons, which, in their own words, are losing their value. And why do they, at the same time, try to spook their readers with the specter of Russia’s rising might and highly effective combat systems, including conventional and nuclear weapons?

The National Interest , an American magazine published by the Nixon Center, a public policy think tank, ran an article in its recent issue by Evan Gottesman about five most lethal submarines in service with the Russian Navy. “From upgrading Cold War models to meet present-day challenges, to designing completely new platforms… Russia is clearly determined to renew the status and capabilities of its underwater fleet,” the author asserts.

At the top of his list is the nuclear powered submarine Project 971 Shchuka-B (NATO reporting name Akula ). While the Akula does not run as quietly as some of its Western counterparts, it remains a credible threat, especially after a series of upgrades following the end of the Cold War, The National Interest writes.

The next item on the list is the diesel-electric submarine Project 877 Paltus (NATO reporting name Kilo ). This submarine has been supplied to a number of countries. Next item is the Project 636 Varshavyanka (Improved Kilo ) submarine. The author stresses that it is faster and more reliable than its predecessors and is also viewed as one of the quietest diesel-electric submarine models in the world. They have been dubbed “black holes in the ocean” in the West.

The article also mentions the Fourth Generation Project 955 Borei- class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines. It claims that four such submarines are currently in service with the Russian Navy and another two are under construction.

Finally, the fifth most lethal submarine, according to the magazine, is the Project 885 Yasen nuclear powered submarine. Yasen class vessels are considered to be among the fastest submarines and can descend over 600 meters beneath the waves, the author says.

This is not the first time The National Interest and its authors have written about Russian weapons. Practically every issue features an article devoted to five weapon systems in service with the Russian Army or Navy, which should be a source of concern, if not alarm, for the US president, Senate, Congress, the Pentagon and the American taxpayer. For example, at the beginning of this year, the magazine carried an article with the alarmist title - “5 Russian Weapons of War America Should Fear” . Neither more, nor less. And get this – number one on this list was the Project 955 Borei class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine with 16 Bulava-30 strategic missiles aboard. Number three is (surprise, surprise) the Project 855 Yasen class nuclear powered submarine with cruise missiles.

The magazine has written about other examples of the “most lethal” Russian weapons which are purportedly superior to their US counterparts and, naturally, require an appropriate response from the United States. These include the Su-35 multirole fighter, the Amur non-nuclear submarine, the T-90S main battle-tank, and the P-800 Oniks anti-ship supersonic cruise missile, which served as the basis for the Brahmos Russian-Indian missile that can be launched both from surface ships and submarines, as well as from coastal defense systems and in the future, also from aircraft. The fifth system was the 53-65 anti-ship hydrogen peroxide torpedo, developed back in the Soviet days.

Needless to say, The National Interest also reported on the Russian heavy tracked platform that served as the basis for the new Armata tank, which, according to the magazine, has specifications far superior to the latest modifications of the German Leopard and US Abrams tanks. In part, because it has an unmanned turret, the crew is in an armored capsule, separated from the ammunition, the gun can fire both artillery rounds and antitank guided rockets, while the tank as a whole – its engine and weapon systems – is controlled by computer.

We will not enumerate all types of Russian military equipment that the US magazine says should be “feared.” Naturally, this extensive list contains not only conventional weapons but also strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. The Nixon Center’s publication not only “advertises” our weapons. Wittingly or unwittingly, but most of the time deliberately, it compares them to American weapons and, to reiterate, claims that the American weapons are inferior to their Russian analogues. It has also carried a story titled “Myths about America's Nuclear Weapons .” Its authors claim, among other things, that these weapons have proved useless for the United States, to put it mildly. They cannot be used against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq or against the Ebola epidemic or against the Afghan rebels or in the armed conflict in Ukraine.

“Nuclear weapons have lost much of their value since the end of the Cold War,” the article says. To back up this claim, the authors cite Lt. General James Kowalski, former Vice Commander of the US Strategic Command, as saying that a Russian nuclear attack on the United States is such “a remote possibility” that it is “hardly worth discussing.” This conclusion is also borne out by the size of the nuclear arsenals. During the Cold War, the US and Soviet arsenals reached about 30,000 and 45,000 weapons, respectively. Now, US and Russian levels hover around 5,000 warheads. However, a ceiling of 900 nuclear warheads and even as few as 311 warheads is being discussed, the article says. These are strange figures. According to an official report issued by the Department of State in the middle of this year, as of March 1, 2015, Russia and the United States had 1,582 and 1,597 warheads, respectively, with 515 and 785 delivery systems, respectively. Oh well, never mind.

Let’s consider this. Let’s think about why The National Interest and its authors so persistently publish in-depth stories about nuclear weapons, which, in their own words, are losing their value. And why do they, at the same time, try to spook their readers with the specter of Russia’s rising might and highly effective combat systems, including conventional and nuclear weapons? Has the American military-industrial complex weakened to such an extent that it is incapable of developing something with specifications superior to their Russian counterparts?

Certainly not. Everything is all right with the military-industrial complex across the ocean. The US exports double the amount of weapons and military equipment compared to Russia. Some arms markets, including European markets, are off limits to our defense companies. Meanwhile, the United States is already trying hard to take over the niches that once belonged entirely to Russian suppliers. For example, in India. What’s more, it is obvious that a $650 billion budget a year, which has been approved by Congress for the Pentagon, can buy and deliver to the army and navy far more ships, tanks, missiles, combat support system and other military equipment than the $60-70 billion that has been allocated to the Russian defense ministry.

The trouble is, however, that even 650 billion greenbacks is not enough for the Pentagon and the US military-industrial complex. Their appetite is far greater. This is why the US public and elite have to be scared by the superiority of Russian weapons, including nuclear weapons. Stories in such a serious and reputable publication as The National Interest could not serve this purpose any better. No one will suspect who the purportedly independent public institution seeks to benefit.

Another point: it is essential to note why the authors downplay the importance of nuclear weapons for the United States. Whereas in Russia, they are a strategic deterrence, as is evident from the country’s Military Doctrine, the United States regards its nuclear weapons as a force to compel the enemy to surrender to the victor’s mercy. Indeed, in all the wars that the Pentagon has waged in recent decades, and these were wars of aggression, whatever Washington might say – Vietnam, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Iraq (twice), Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria and the “Islamic State”, and even Ukraine, where, in the final analysis, the Americans are fighting not only with their private mercenary armies but also via volunteer nationalist and Ukrainian army battalions – nuclear weapons were not used. Although in Vietnam, it almost came to the point of using them.

Does this mean that the United States is ready to abandon nuclear weapons? Of course, not. This is evident from, among other things, the recent reports about the testing of the modernized B61 free fall nuclear bomb in the United States. Washington keeps 200 such bombs in five European countries: Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and Turkey. And it has no intention of abandoning this arsenal. Today, it is obvious that nuclear, including tactical nuclear weapons, are a security guarantee and a great-power attribute. Even North Korea, which may or may not have a nuclear bomb, feels secure, as it blackmails all its neighbors and the United States with the prospect. It may be a “dirty” bomb and there may be question marks about it, but no one dares to mess with Pyongyang. Now, Saddam did not have a bomb, nor did Qaddafi, and no one needs reminding what happened to them.

The US powers that be, of course, are anxious to convince everyone that nuclear weapons today have become irrelevant. By the way, Barack Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize, among other things, for his call to eliminate nuclear weapons. In a situation where the Pentagon has overwhelming superiority in conventional weapons over every military in the world, it can easily go ahead and claim that nuclear weapons have lost their value, that they cannot be used to fight terrorists or Ebola…

Serious people cannot be taken in by such articles and talk about the superiority of Russian weapons, especially in Russia, where everyone knows very well the true worth of US incantations. As President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated, we do not plan to become involved in an arms race. We will have essential and sufficient means to reliably protect our independence, as well as the independence of our allies.

As for those across the ocean who, like The National Interest and its authors, advertise our excellent weapons, we should thank them. Especially considering that this advertizing does not cost Russian arms manufacturers a kopeck.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.